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Published: December 30th 2012
We spent roughly one day in St Petersburg, after spending the day before almost entirely driving there from the Everglades. The weather was rainy which made the drive in the dark, heavily trafficked highways a bit scary. Anyway, we made it to our Marriot hotel in Clearwater (town next to St Pete). In the evening we went for food to one of the many fastfood chain restaurants we saw accross the road. At first we didn't see any way to cross the highway on foot, so we actually had to go by car to the McDonald's 100m away. We did see later that there actually was a pedestrian crossing, but somehow this represents well the way American towns are laid out: everything seems to assume people are moving around by cars..often all businesses, like restaurants, cafés and shops, are lined next to roads in separate buildings, without decent pedestrian ways to go from one building to another. You COULD walk, as pedestrian ways are not non-existing, but then you feel like you just end up in the middle of busy car traffic.
In the morning we drove to downtown St Pete. It was very quiet, also traffic was much more
calm than the night before. This seems common in American cities too: downtowns are pretty dead on the weekends. They are not areas where people go for window shopping, for coffee or beer or lunch; they are seemingly mostly for office working. Also St Pete was rather lifeless on Saturday. Somehow the cities haven't evolved so that downtowns would be the center of action, but the malls seem to be. This seems a bit boring to me, as in downtown you can at least see some nice buildings, waterfront etc, but at shopping mall there is really nothing that nice to look at. Anyway, we started our day at Salvador Dali museum, which was packed and the main sight of the city. The museum wasnt that big but had a good collection of Dali's paintings, collected by a couple who got to know Dali in person during his lifetime. The collection represented well Dali's artistic career from early to late periods, and was enormous considering it's owned by private persons. Luckily we got to the museum early, as when we left it, a line had build up that reached outside.
After museum we browsed a Saturday market where we
got some strawberries for snack. The market was about the only spot in addition to Dali museum where things were more active. We took a walk along the city's main street, and we did see that St Pete is certainly some kind of art and design center, as they had lots of art and design stores. However, everything was quiet and basically looking closed. We found an Indian restaurant which was praising (itself) so much on its windows that we decided to try it out 😊 It was a good idea, lunch buffet was excellent. After lunch we headed to a shopping mall in Tampa called International Plaza. (Tampa and St Pete are right next to each other).
At the shopping mall it became apparent why the downtown area was so quiet: because all the people were there 😊 It was a huge mall and full of people. We walked around for few hours and I managed to buy some clothes and two bags as well.
We ended the evening by going to movies to see Hobbit at local cinema. Didn't like the movie too much, but going to cinema was nice anyway 😊
In general I felt like I thought St Petersburg would be nicer, again based on what I had read on lonely planet. I thought it would have a lively center where you could walk around and look around for hours. I did not expect a more or less dead main street and mostly closed businesses on a Saturday. In fact, what I liked most about the town itself was big graffitis there was on some building walls. Museum was worth a visit too, of course.
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